FN keys in Hardy Heron nearly sorted :)

Toufik has just posted a .deb file on the Ubuntu Forum that should get the FN keys on your FS laptop working again but is in need of some testers.

After some testing myself the .deb file installed hassle free through Gdebi with a double click and the volume, brightness and mute buttons work. Not perfectly mind you as not all the buttons are configured by default yet, but easily good enough to use.

If your running the Beta version of Hardy then please head over to the forum, do some testing and leave some feedback. I’m not too sure if this will work on Gutsy or not but there’s a good chance that it will 🙂

Files installed by the .deb package..

usr/local/bin/fsfn – The fsfn main program file.

usr/local/share/man/man1/fsfn.1 – Manual on how to use the software.

usr/local/share/man/man5/fsfn.5 – Manual on how to use the software.

etc/init.d/fsfn – This is the script that starts and stops the daemon.

etc/fsfn.conf – The configuration file that you can edit to change your keys.

Nothing too dramatic here, but he’s done a great job of packaging it all up for us and it’s got to be the easiest way ever to get your FN keys working.

Thanks Toufik 😀


Bug #38316 is well and truly squashed :)

For those of you who don’t know what that means, Bug #38316 is my bug report for the hibernate function not working on my VGN-FS215E laptop.

This means that Hibernate should work perfectly on the VGN-FS laptops in the Hardy Heron Long Term Support (LTS) release of Ubuntu.. Hurrah!

I’ve also tested the Suspend feature with absolutely no problems 🙂

If you’d like to test this yourself and make sure it works for you too, you will first need to update to the Beta version of Hardy Heron. Read the update page here! You’d better hurry up though as there’s only 7 days to get them sorted out before the final version is released.

Huge thanks go to Greg Grossmeier and the rest of the Ubuntu developers for finaly kicking this bug in the nuts 🙂

Release Countdown

Epson RX560 Scanner..

This is just a quick tutorial to show you how to get the scanner on an Epson RX560 all in one printer working. The printer itself should work by installing it from the Gnome printer utility, so this guide is only to help you get the actual scanner part working.

First step is to make sure that your printer is plugged into the USB port on your laptop.

To next step is to download, convert and install the needed drivers.

To install the scanner drivers you will need to convert an .rpm file into a .deb file or it wont install on Ubuntu, so make sure you have Alien installed (a tool to convert .rpm to .deb). Do this by opening up a terminal and entering..

sudo apt-get install alien

Keep your terminal open because you’ll be needing it again real soon 🙂

Next you need to head over to the Avasys site here for the needed drivers.

Scroll down the page and click the circle next to Stylus Photo RX560/RX580/RX590 in the second section called – Image Scan! for Linux & Photo Image Print System Lite.

Keep scrolling down the page and choose Debian in the *Distribution* box and Others in the *Distribution version* box.

Scroll down again, fill in the answers for the Questionnaire and click on the next button to continue.

Once the next page has loaded up, scroll down one last time past the Printer Driver to the section called Scanner Driver and download the RPM package called iscan-2.11.0-1.c2.i386.rpm.

This will probably download to your desktop, so head back into your terminal and enter..

cd Desktop

and then..

sudo alien -d -c iscan-2.11.0-1.c2.i386.rpm

..to convert the .rpm file to a .deb one.

Leave it a while to convert. It should say iscan_2.11.0-2_i386.deb generated when finished.

Double click the newly created .deb file on your desktop to install with gdebi. Just click on the Install button when gdebi’s finished loading and close the program down when it’s done.

Now it’s time to clean up a little.

Back into your terminal and enter the following command to remove both of the unwanted packages as you won’t be needing them anymore..

sudo rm iscan_2.11.0-2_i386.deb iscan-2.11.0-1.c2.i386.rpm

That should be all you need to do software wise. Feel free to close the terminal now and navigate away from the download page in your web browser.

That’s it, just start up whichever program you want to use for scanning and the scanner should be found automatically.

Thanks to mabhatter on the Ubuntu Forum for the correct Alien command 🙂

Easier Scanning in Gnome..

XSane’s a great piece of software for scanning on Linux, but suffers from over complexity for new users & it doesn’t really fit in with the rest of your Gnome programs when it comes down to the looks department.

Gnome Scan is software that was originally developed as part of the 2006 Google Summer of Code. This is another project that I’ve been keeping an eye on for a while, just waiting for it to mature enough before recommending it to you guys. I’ve only tested the 0.4.1 version as that was the one in the Ubuntu repository (still is) and the newest version is 0.5.2. I’ll try and find a newer .deb for testing when time permits.

This version will scan fine to PNG, JPEG and TIFF formats, but the scan to PDF option doesn’t fully work yet. It’s a shame as the scan to PDF feature is one of the most useful options in this software. With having no controls for changing colours etc. it’s not as well suited to scanning photographs as XSane, but the simplicity makes it perfect for quick scanning documents for friends or work mates.

This is the main program window..


It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the options for this program. The developer has taken great lengths to keep the software as simple & straight forward to use as possible. Some options are even hidden until you choose a certain option, then it allows them to be changed.

EXAMPLE: If you choose the scanning feature from within Gimp (File, Acquire, Scan …), the option to save won’t even show up in the program and you will instead be presented with the option to scan straight to a layer within Gimp itself.

Getting Started (Stand-Alone Mode):

Click on the scanner that you want to use from the list of detected hardware, choose what you want to do with the image after you’ve captured it (where to save it and what type of image format to use etc.), click on the Advanced tab to set what resolution you’d like (normally 300dpi) and click on the preview tab to select what part of the image you want to scan..


If the preview image isn’t already present in the window then click on the Refresh button to acquire it. It would be nice if it did this automatically, but it’s not really a big deal to do it yourself. The boundary box can be used to select the region for scanning. Just left click and hold on any of the little squares and drag until all the wanted image is inside the dotted lines. Then all you need to do is press Scan..


The good thing about this software is that you can still choose to use XSane if you want to. Both programs will live on your system quite happily together.

To install, either open up a terminal and enter..

sudo apt-get install gnomescan

or search for gnomescan in your package manager.

Once installed, you should be able to find its shortcut in the Gnome menu under the Graphics section and it’s named Scanner Utility.

I really hope they update this to the newest version soon 🙂

Loads Faster ;)

Preload monitors applications that users run, and by analyzing this data, predicts what applications users might run, and fetches those binaries and their dependencies into memory for faster startup times.”

That was the promise anyway, but does it actually work?

To find out, open up a terminal and enter the following line..

sudo aptitude install preload

You can also install it by searching for preload within your package manager.

I haven’t bothered doing a highly scientific test on this; basically I just started counting after I had clicked on the programs shortcut and stopped once the program had fully loaded. It doesn’t really matter though as the programs start up noticeably faster.

Before Installation:

Firefox = 8 seconds
Thunderbird = 13 seconds
Gimp = 20 seconds
Writer (Open Office) = 40 seconds
Rhythmbox = 11 seconds

After Installation:

Firefox = 2 seconds
Thunderbird = 3 seconds
Gimp = 6 seconds
Writer (Open Office) = 8 seconds
Rhythmbox = 3 seconds

These can’t really be considered consistent results. The programs didn’t start up quite as fast once I performed a clean reboot, but they were still faster and easily worth the meager resources that Preloads background daemon uses. It only makes a difference to programs that you start and stop a lot.  I don’t use email enough to warrant keeping Thunderbird open all the time and I’m forever opening and closing the Gimp so this suits me fine.

There’s no extra configuration necessary by the way, just install and enjoy 😀

Big thanks go out to The Social Retard for this little nugget. Check out their post on Optimizing Ubuntu for more hints and tips 🙂

Setting up OpenDNS..

****Updated to work with Hardy Heron releases****

If you need a quick run through on what OpenDNS can do for you, then read my post here!

This tutorial is just a more complete version of the official OpenDNS Get Started guide for Linux/Unix systems. If you need to know how to get a different type of operating system or a router using OpenDNS, then please check the official pages.

Start up a terminal & enter sudo gedit /etc/resolv.conf

Add these two lines at the top of your /etc/resolv.conf file (above any other nameserver entries you already have in there)..


Save the changed file & exit the text editor.

That’s pretty much it, unless you use DHCP?

If you assign your computer an IP address with DHCP, it will overwrite your /etc/resolv.conf file every time your Internet connection gets renewed. This is what you need to do to stop that from happening..

****For Dapper through to Feisty releases****

Enter sudo gedit /etc/dhcp3/dhclient.conf into your terminal & look for the following line within the text editor..

#prepend domain-name-servers

Replace that entire line of text with this one..

prepend domain-name-servers,;

Again; save the file & exit.

****For Gutsy through to Hardy releases****

Enter the following lines into your terminal..

sudo cp /etc/resolv.conf /etc/resolv.conf.auto

Turns off auto changing of DNS srvers.


sudo gedit /etc/dhcp3/dhclient.conf

Opens the file in your text editor.

Add this line to the text file..

prepend domain-name-servers,;

Save and exit the text editor.

In the terminal again enter..

sudo ifdown eth1 && sudo ifup eth1

You might need to change eth1 to whatever your network connection is configured as. This will start/restart your network connection with the new settings (or just log out and back in again).

Every time your Internet connection gets renewed now, it will always use the OpenDNS servers first. Your Internet Service Providers DNS Servers will still be used as backup in case of emergency though 🙂

You can use Gnomes Network application to see if the changes have been applied correctly. To do this go to Gnomes System menu, navigate into the Administration sub menu & choose the Network option. Once the applications fully loaded, click the DNS tab to see what addresses your laptops set up to use.

As you can see from the screen shot below; my laptop uses the two OpenDNS addresses first & uses my routers address of as backup. My router uses my Internet providers DNS as default..


If all looks ok in Gnomes Network application.. now would be a good time to either restart your laptop, or disconnect/reconnect your Internet connection & make sure that your changes are holding ok.

You can test that everything is working as it should by clicking on the following links within your web browser..

http://www.opendns.com/welcome/ – Clicking on this should show you the OpenDNS Welcome page.

http://www.internetbadguys.com/ – This link lets you test & make sure that OpenDNS will warn you when visiting a dodgy site.

http://system.opendns.com/ – The OpenDNS status page shows you which servers are running as they should be & if any are having trouble. I like that I can check this page for problems if my Internet seems to have slowed; Not that I’ve ever needed it 😉

FN Key Tutorial (Part 3)..

**** WARNING: This will only work for releases up to Feisty. For Gutsy release and later check here! (only for FS model laptops). If you don’t have an FS model laptop, you can try this tutorial anyway but don’t install the Sony_acpi software from part 1 and download the 2.0.1 version of the fsfn software from here and use that in part 2. I’ve not tried this myself though, so please leave a comment if it works for you 🙂 ****

You can find Part 1 of the tutorial here & Part 2 here!

Part 3 – This will be all about the fine tuning your Sony Fn Keys configuration file & making the software auto run at boot time.

Auto run the FSFN software on boot:

Open up a terminal, type in the BOLD parts of these lines one at a time in order & press enter after each one..

wget http://gp2x.projectinfinity.org.uk/downloads/fsfn/fsfn.txt
-Downloads the needed file to your desktop.

sudo mv fsfn.txt /etc/init.d/fsfn – This command will copy the file into the correct directory & renames it to fsfn.

cd /etc/init.d/ – Navigates you into the same directory that you just moved the file into.

sudo chown root:root fsfn && sudo chmod +x fsfn – This will change the owner of the file to root & stop anyone else from using it without sudo.

sudo update-rc.d fsfn defaults – This is the command that updates the boot process to include the FSFN daemon.

Auto run the On Screen Display software on boot:

If you want the on screen display to show up when you change volume/brightness you need to add it to the Gnome Sessions Manager. Dapper & Edgy users will need to click here to find out how to do that, as there’s currently a problem with the permissions for the default installs.

In the Startup Programs tab; click on the New button on the right to add your program..

Call it something like fsfn display in the Name: box & type fsfn -o in the Command: box & press the OK button to save it.


Now you just need to press the Close button & save your entry.

Don’t restart just yet as you still need to tweak your settings a little 😀

Tweaking your configuration:

sudo killall fsfn – to stop the FSFN daemon.

sudo gedit /etc/fsfn.conf – This will open up the main configuration file in the text editor.

You’ll find the following options in the file, just remove the # from the beginning of a line to activate them or add it to disable them..


With the Device option set to AUTO, you don’t need to manually find out what event number your keyboard works on.


These are your sound cards options.
The PCM option seems to work the best for me, but try them all to see which one you prefer.


Adding different targets to these fields will override the default key actions.
e.g. S1_CMD=/usr/bin/gnome-system-monitor to start up the Gnome System Monitor when you press the S1 button.

Lets you choose which font the On Screen Display uses.


Allows you to choose which colours the On Screen Display uses for the font.
VCOLOR = Volume colour
BCOLOR = Brightness colour
VCOLORZ = Mute Volume colour
(I’ve changed these to make them fit in with the Ubuntu colour scheme a little better)


Sets the default brightness for your laptop to boot up with.
(The default is 3)

Allows you to manually set the amount of time that the On Screen Display shows for.
(The default is 3)

If you find that the software won’t change your brightness correctly, then try enabling this option.

You should now have all the info that you need to set this software up to your preference. Don’t forget to save the file before exiting 🙂

Once you’ve finished with the tweaking, restart your laptop & you will have both of the programs load automatically & your Fn key will work as it should.

Huge thanks to everybody who’s worked on the FSFN software & to all the people in the Gentoo & Ubuntu forums who made this a lot easier than it would have been without them.